The Warlord's Secret (CHAPTER SEVEN, page 1 of 13)


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Excerpt from The Book of the Damned,

Seventh Warlord of Tiyan

My father was a misguided man. Maybe his will was too weak, and the demon took advantage of him. It has taken my whole life to stop the senseless wars. I give water from the Springs to every king my father wronged.

There are many of them. Tiyan's penance is to heal what we destroyed. All but the king of Landis have forgiven us. He refuses the waters, even knowing his people still suffer.

I found the histories written by the first warlord of Tiyan and his brother. Every warlord has kept the kingdom's histories. The demon tried to trick me into burning them, but I refuse its will as much as I can. Some days, this is not much, as the weakness of my forefathers has made it powerful enough to choose its next host and seize control of my body.

I saw the folly of my forefathers in the histories. Maybe once the demon was a gift to Tiyan, but now, it is Tiyan's curse. Today, it lets me write these words. Tomorrow, it may make me burn them. I've written the history of my time many times, and each time I've destroyed it, unable to resist the demon's will.

I, too, will fall victim to the madness caused by the demon. I pray to the gods it does not force me to destroy the histories, so that someday, someone will have the strength I lack.

Maybe a female warlord will end the curse? Maybe it was the demon's first lie. Tomorrow, I shall give an order to counter the First Warlord's order. No longer will the female heir of Tiyan die at the hands of her own blood.

If I live to see tomorrow.

***

Taran spent the night on the wall, fighting with the men who had treated him like a brother for a kingdom he wanted but would never have.

By dawn, the intruders were driven beyond the breached wall, and stonecutters and woodworkers summoned to begin repairing the wall behind the ongoing battle. He watched their work with appreciation, astonished by Sirian's ingenuity. As slippery and twisted the man was, he knew how to train men to win a battle.

A messenger sought him out the moment he sat with a hunk of bread and ale, ordering him back to the hold with no explanation. He went grudgingly, not wanting to deal with what awaited him.

The main chamber of the hold was as disorganized as the battle was organized. Messengers perched near the door in one huddle while various warriors, Rissa's counselors, and strangers occupied the floor area. Talk was loud enough to hurt his ears, ranging between orders shouted across the chamber to the man Bastion bellowing at the messengers from the northern wall.

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